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More than Mines: building on success of landmine treaty

mine action

04 April 2015 - The theme of this year’s International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is "More than Mines", emphasizing risks from an increasingly wide range of explosive hazards. Director of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), Agnès Marcaillou, recently stated a need to build upon the evolution which took place in the mid-1990s, when civil society rallied together to conclude a treaty banning landmines. This treaty has been a cornerstone of international humanitarian law ever since.

Mines remain deadly around the world, but unexploded bombs, grenades, unsecured weapons and ammunition and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) also kill and injure, as well as restrict access for UN peacekeeping operations and deliveries of humanitarian assistance to local population by the international community. They leave countries unable to deliver basic functions like education and healthcare services.

Children at risk in eastern Ukraine

At least 109 children are reported to have been injured and 42 killed by landmines and unexploded ordnance in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine since March last year, UNICEF said on 31 March 2015.

Children in particular are at risk from unexploded ordnance and landmines which may be brightly coloured and small enough to pick up or kick around. Children could be drawn to such items which can result in tragedy.

“The number of children killed and maimed by mines and unexploded ordnance would be significantly higher if we include non-government controlled areas,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director. “Lack of access to these areas is a real challenge for humanitarian actors on the ground.”

Safety through education.

UNICEF and its partners have launched a mine-risk education campaign in crisis-affected areas of Ukraine to provide 500,000 children and their families with lifesaving information about the risks posed by landmines and explosives.

Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon stated in his message for this international day: “I am alarmed that these indiscriminate weapons are still being used in conflicts today. On this International Day, I urge Member States to stay committed to the cause of mine action through financial contributions and political support, which is particularly crucial this year as the General Assembly debates assistance in mine action.”

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